In the wake of Billy Joel and Katie Lee Joel's big breakup last week, Jo Piazza takes a look at the trophy wife phenomenon for The Daily Beast today. And you know what? It turns out it's a pretty good gig. A "transitory stepping stone into a better life," the job doesn't necessarily have to last all that long; a trophy wife may only be forced to sleep with the creepy old man she's vowed to remain with for the rest of her life for a matter of months, in fact. "The shelf life for the typical trophy wife—the time it takes her to increase her monetary and social standing for the rest of her days—is typically two or three years," which, as Piazza points out, is less time than the time it takes to attend medical school. (And Lord knows training to become a doctor doesn't come with boozy afternoons at charity golf tournaments or trips to the Côte d'Azur.)
Marrying man for his money doesn't always work out perfectly, of course. Marla Maples's marriage to Donald Trump, a six-year sentence that she served out in a pink marble palace atop the Trump Tower, only earned her an estimated $1 million when the marriage fell apart. And the easy money that was once available to trophy wives doesn't come as easily now that tight pre-nups are commonplace and the economic downturn has taken a bite out of even the richest men on the planet.
But it might be worth considering, especially if you don't have any bright job prospects lined up. And you don't need to necessarily fit the mold of the typical trophy wife either. Paula Fortunato wasn't all that young (40), nor was she an impossibly beautiful ex-model (she was a public school teacher) before she settled down with a wrinkly Sumner Redstone in 2003. When they split up five years later, Fortunato reportedly collected $1 million for each year they were married and she also got to keep a $4.1 million house, too, bringing the total value of the "deal" to close to $10 million. Not bad when you consider it would have taken her 211 years to earn that kind of money if she'd remained a teacher.
If you can stomach the idea of spending the next few years sleeping next to a man who looks like this, pack your bags. Sumner's waiting. For you and for someone to fetch him his morning Metamucil.